Injured musher, yard shark, street stunts: News from around our 50 states

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Montgomery: A state appeals court has upheld the felony convictions of a man who served 38 years as sheriff in a northern Alabama county. In the unanimous ruling Friday, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals also denied former Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely’s request for a new trial, reports. “This evidence was sufficient for the jury to have concluded that Blakely acted with intent to use his public office to obtain personal gain,” Presiding Judge Mary B. Windom wrote. Blakely was removed from office in August 2021 after a jury convicted him of theft and abuse of power. Prosecutors said the theft charge was tied to accusations that he deposited $4,000 of campaign funds into his personal account. The abuse of power charge was tied to Blakely borrowing money from a jail safe that held inmates’ money. Prosecutors said Blakely received $29,050 in interest-free loans from the safe. Blakely’s attorneys argued that no inmate was ever deprived of money. The trial judge gave him a three-year sentence. Blakely remains out on bond and can ask the Alabama Supreme Court to review the case. Blakely’s attorneys argued to the appeals court that the state failed to show sufficient evidence that he intentionally used his office for personal gain.


Anchorage: A reality television star and Iditarod musher was injured last week while helping to clean up storm damage along the state’s western coast. Jessie Holmes, who since 2015 has starred in “Life Below Zero,” a show about life in rural Alaska produced by National Geographic TV, was injured by falling debris in a building in the community of Golovin on Wednesday, the Anchorage Daily News reports. He was flown for treatment to Nome and then sent to an Anchorage hospital, where officials said he was treated and released. “I wanted to take a moment to let everyone know how much I appreciate all the love, support, and prayers,” Holmes wrote in a post on his kennel’s Facebook page Thursday. Parts of Alaska’s Bering Sea coast were left with severe damage beginning Sept. 16 when the remnants of Typhoon Merbok traveled north through the Bering Strait. Holmes had reached out to defending Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race champion Brent Sass and two other mushers, Jeff Deeter and Richie Beattie, to travel to hard-hit Golovin to volunteer in the cleanup effort, Sass told the Anchorage newspaper. On Wednesday, they were pulling waterlogged plywood and insulation to help them dry out, Sass said. They were standing underneath the plywood when Holmes pulled down a board, and the entire area collapsed on top of them. Holmes, who finished third in this year’s Iditarod, was trapped underneath the pile of plywood, insulation and other building materials.


Phoenix: All Arizona parents now can use state tax money to send their children to private or religious schools or pay home-schooling costs after an effort by public school advocates to block a massive expansion of the state’s private school voucher law failed to collect enough signatures to block it. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs announced Friday that her office’s review of signatures turned in a week ago to refer the expansion to the ballot came up short of the nearly 119,000 that were needed. Hobbs is a Democrat running for governor who opposed the plan. Republican Gov. Doug Ducey championed the plan and signed it into law in July. He celebrated on Twitter, saying “Let’s Roll!” and “Parents Prevail.” Arizona now has the nation’s most expansive private school voucher law. It allows parents of the state’s more than 1.2 million school-age children to get 90% of the state money that would normally go to their local public schools and use it for private or other school costs. That’s typically about $7,000 per student. The effort to block the expansion passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature over Democratic opposition was organized by Save Our Schools Arizona, a grassroots group of teachers, parents and public education advocates who blocked a similar expansion in 2017. Voters then overwhelmingly rejected the law in the 2018 election.


Little Rock: Voters will decide next month whether recreational marijuana will be legal in the state. Issue 4, to legalize cannabis for residents 21 and older, will be on the Nov. 8 ballots. And the votes will count, the state’s high court has ruled. The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the petition submitted by Responsible Growth Arkansas is sufficient. “Accordingly, we grant the petition and order the Secretary of State to certify the proposed amendment for inclusion on the Nov. 8 general election ballot,” the court said in its opinion. Steve Lancaster, an attorney for Responsible Growth Arkansas, the group that gathered the petition signatures, said he learned of the ruling late Thursday afternoon. “It was a surprise to all of us,” Lancaster said. About 193,000 signature were submitted – over 100,000 signatures more than required to make the ballot. “We were well above what we needed,” Lancaster said. “The result is what we expected from the very beginning. We put a lot of work into a good ballot title, and the court agreed this is good to go to let the voters in Arkansas make their own decision on this. And we’re very grateful to the court for giving the people the right to make this decision.”


Sacramento: Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday announced that oil refineries could start selling more polluting winter-blend gasoline ahead of schedule to ease soaring fuel prices, directly contradicting his own goals for reducing climate emissions. The average cost of a gallon of gas was $6.30 in California on Friday, far above the national average of $3.80, according to AAA. Newsom administration officials said the difference between state prices and the national average has never been larger. The Democratic governor also called on state lawmakers to pass a new tax on oil company profits and return the money to California taxpayers. Lawmakers don’t return to the Capitol until January, and Newsom’s office provided few details on the proposal. “They’re ripping you off,” he said of the oil industry in a video posted to Twitter. Oil industry representatives said it is state regulations that cause higher prices in California than the rest of the country. The summer blend of gasoline that refineries are required by law to produce in the hotter months costs more money to make but is designed to limit greenhouse gas emissions and smog during summer months. Most refineries can’t switch to the winter blend until November.


Denver: When people who had been homeless for years moved off the city’s streets and into apartments, they were far less likely to end up in hospital emergency rooms or get locked up in jail. But they still died at the same rate as those who lived outside, the Colorado Sun reports. That’s the grim finding from a new study of Denver’s social impact bond program, which sends outreach workers to find the highest users of taxpayer-funded services including hospitals, detox centers and the jail. Hundreds of people who were chronically homeless have been housed through the program, which began seven years ago. Previous research showed that the first 250 participants had cost the government a total of $7.3 million per year when they lived outside and in shelters and cycled through the health care and criminal justice systems. After they were housed, researchers found a 40% reduction in arrests, a 30% reduction in jail stays, a 65% decrease in detox services and a 40% drop in emergency department visits. The reductions made up for half of the cost of the program, which was started with $8.6 million from eight private investors as well as local housing resources. The researchers, from the Urban Institute based in Washington, D.C., noticed high levels of mortality among those who were living in supportive housing. A second study confirmed the death rate among those in apartments was the same as those living outside.


Hartford: Citing a U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this year, gun rights groups and firearms owners have launched another attempt to overturn the state’s ban on certain semi-automatic rifles that was enacted in response to the Sandy Hook School shooting. A new lawsuit was filed Thursday in federal court by three gun owners, the Connecticut Citizens Defense League and the Second Amendment Foundation seeking to overturn the state prohibition on what they call “modern sporting arms” such as AR-15-style rifles like the one used to kill 20 first graders and six educators at the Newtown school in 2012. “We all deserve to live in safe communities, but denying ownership of the most commonly owned firearms in the country is not the way to achieve it,” Holly Sullivan, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, said in a statement. “The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision … has opened the door to this challenge, and we believe Connecticut will be hard pressed to prove its statutes are constitutional.” State officials vowed to defend the 2013 gun laws. “Connecticut’s gun laws save lives, and we are not going back,” state Attorney General William Tong said in a statement. “We will not allow weapons of war back into our schools, our houses of worship, our grocery stores, and our communities.”


Dover: Perfect attendance isn’t just for bragging rights anymore – for one University of Delaware student, it’s going to mean money, too. This year the University of Delaware athletics department has unveiled the Cockpit HENergy Challenge, a high-stakes contest to incentivize football game attendance. At the end of the season, one UD student who attended all six home football games will be randomly chosen to win $10,000 in financial aid. “Student engagement is really important to us, and it’s important to the program, in terms of the support and stance and making that atmosphere on game day feel really positive, not just for the team but for the students as well,” said Nick LaMarca, who oversees marketing and engagement for the UD athletics department. LaMarca said the department chose to give out financial aid as the prize after “thinking about what’s important to the students.” He said the money comes from the athletics department specifically, not the university overall. To win the competition, UD students must scan their student football tickets before halftime at every home game. Students who participate in the games – including players, marching band members and people in the UD spirit program – are not eligible.

District of Columbia

Washington: Two bills introduced in Congress on Thursday aim to begin the process of creating a national museum for American LGBTQ+ history and culture in D.C., WUSA-TV reports. U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., a co-chair of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, introduced the pair of bills ahead of the nation preparing to celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month in October. “As our community faces unprecedented attacks and attempts to erase our history, we must preserve and protect our stories for future generations,” Pocan said. The bills would establish an eight-member commission to study the potential creation of the national museum and to establish it within the Smithsonian Institution. The bills would be required to be signed into law to become the newest Smithsonian. Pocan said it is vital to remember the nation’s collective past, especially as certain states seek to constrain and repeal existing rights by passing bills that are harmful to LGBTQ+ youth and the community as a whole. During the process, the developed commission would look into the success of the potential Smithsonian museum by creating a plan of action for the establishment, proposing a fundraising path, identifying potential locations within the District to house the facility and more.


Fort Myers: Photos and videos of sharks and other marine life swimming in suburban floodwaters make for popular hoaxes during massive storms. But a cellphone video filmed during Hurricane Ian’s assault on southwest Florida isn’t just another fish story. The eye-popping video, which showed a large, dark fish with sharp dorsal fins thrashing around an inundated Fort Myers backyard, racked up more than 12 million views on Twitter within a day, as users responded with disbelief and comparisons to the “Sharknado” film series. Dominic Cameratta, a local real estate developer, confirmed he filmed the clip from his back patio Wednesday morning when he saw something “flopping around” in his neighbor’s flooded yard. “I didn’t know what it was – it just looked like a fish or something,” he said. “I zoomed in, and all my friends are like, ‘It’s like a shark, man!’ ” He guessed the fish was about 4 feet long. Experts were of mixed opinion on whether the clip showed a shark or another large fish, likely a swordfish. George Burgess, former director of the Florida Museum of Natural History’s shark program, said in an email that it “appears to be a juvenile shark,” while Dr. Neil Hammerschlag, director of the University of Miami’s shark conservation program, wrote that “it’s pretty hard to tell.”


Atlanta: A federal judge on Friday found that Georgia election practices challenged by a group associated with Democrat Stacey Abrams do not violate the constitutional rights of voters, ruling in favor of the state on all remaining issues in a lawsuit filed nearly four years ago. “Although Georgia’s election system is not perfect, the challenged practices violate neither the constitution nor the VRA,” U.S. District Judge Steve Jones in Atlanta wrote, referring to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He detailed his reasoning in a 288-page order. The lawsuit was filed in November 2018, just weeks after Abrams narrowly lost the governor’s race to Republican Brian Kemp. Throughout that contest, Abrams had accused Kemp, then secretary of state, of using his position as the state’s top elections official to promote voter suppression. Kemp vehemently denied the allegations. Kemp on Friday applauded the ruling, calling it a loss for Abrams. “Judge Jones’ ruling exposes this legal effort for what it really is: a tool wielded by a politician hoping to wrongfully weaponize the legal system to further her own political goals,” Kemp said in a statement. Abrams and Fair Fight expressed disappointment in the decision but said the lawsuit helped bring about positive change in Georgia.


Honolulu: U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited the state last week amid lingering community frustration and distrust after jet fuel from a military storage facility last year spilled into Pearl Harbor’s drinking water, poisoned thousands of military families and threatened the purity of Honolulu’s water supply. Austin traveled to the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility in the hills above Pearl Harbor on Friday and met the commander of the joint task force in charge of draining its tanks so it can be shut down. He also met with several families affected by the fuel spill and Hawaii state officials, the military said in a news release. The meetings were closed to the media, and Austin didn’t hold a news conference afterward. Outside Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, several dozen protesters held signs saying “Navy Lies” and “Shut Down Red Hill.” People driving by – including many exiting the base – honked in support. Samantha McCoy, whose husband is in the Air Force, said her family suffered migraines, rashes, skin sores and gastrointestinal problems that only subsided when they moved out of military housing last month. She called on Austin to make more medical care available to families. “It took four months of daily migraines to even get a referral to a neurologist. And that’s really unacceptable,” she said at the protest.


Moscow: A box truck equipped with a bright LED billboard began circling around the University of Idaho campus Friday. “Pregnant? You still have a choice,” said one of the bright blue-and-white messages flashing across the side. “You can still get abortion pills by mail,” read another message. The moving billboard was a salvo by Mayday Health against Idaho’s anti-abortion laws, including some that prohibit state employees from promoting or endorsing abortion or emergency contraception. The organization seeks to inform people in anti-abortion states how to access abortion and contraception. Mayday Health chose Moscow for the action after the university warned employees not to refer students to abortion or birth control providers lest they run afoul of the state laws. “This effort is part of protecting free speech and the First Amendment,” said Kaori Sueyoshi, Mayday Health ‘s head of strategy. “We want to make sure that students at the University of Idaho and surrounding area have accurate information about how to get birth control pills, Plan B (emergency contraception) as well as how to get safe abortion access.” University of Idaho Provost Torrey Lawrence said the legal guidance simply was intended to protect staffers. Boise State University recently issued similar, albeit less strict, advice.


Zion: Millions of Ahmadi Muslims around the world believe holy miracle happened in Zion 115 years ago. The Ahmadis view this small city, 40 miles north of Chicago on the shores of Lake Michigan, as a place of special religious significance for their global messianic faith. Their reverence for the community began more than a century ago – with fighting words, a prayer duel and a prophecy. Zion was founded in 1900 as a Christian theocracy by John Alexander Dowie, an evangelical and early Pentecostal preacher who drew thousands to the city with his faith healing ministry. The Ahmadis believe their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, defended the faith from Dowie’s verbal attacks against Islam and defeated him in a sensational faceoff armed only with prayers. Most current residents may not have an inkling of that high-stakes holy fight of a bygone era. But for the Ahmadis, it is one that has created an eternal bond with the city of Zion. Over the weekend, thousands of Ahmadi Muslims from around the world congregated in the city to celebrate that century-old miracle and a significant milestone in the life of Zion and of their faith: the building of the city’s first mosque.


Indianapolis: All tax rebate payments from the state’s budget surplus have been printed and mailed, Indiana State Auditor Tera Klutz said. “We successfully completed printing on September 21 and sent the last batch of automatic taxpayer refund checks to the postal service on September 22,” Klutz said in a statement Thursday. “Most Hoosiers who filed a 2020 tax return in 2021 should have received their automatic taxpayer refund via direct deposit or mailed check by now.” More than 1.5 million checks with the $125 refund were mailed, Klutz’s office said. Eligible Hoosiers will also receive additional payments for $200 for individuals or $400 for couples filing jointly. The Indiana Department of Revenue noted that the eligibility requirements for the two refunds are different. Although all who were eligible for the initial $125 payment qualify for the subsequent $200 refund, some who were not eligible for the first do qualify for the second. Direct deposit payments for the first round of rebates were sent starting in May.


Des Moines: Nearly two years after a federal policy required the nation’s hospitals to unveil the hidden costs of medical care, a tiny fraction of Iowa facilities are in compliance, according to a new report. And patients are paying the price. Only six of the state’s 61 hospitals in Iowa reviewed by researchers – 10% – have complied with the federal rule intended to bring more transparency to health care costs, according to the audit by published in August. Iowa’s compliance rate is even worse than the national rate. The audit of 2,000 hospitals nationwide found that 319 hospitals, or 16%, complied with the rule. Noncompliant hospitals ranged from small, independent hospitals to some of the largest health care systems in the country, according to Iowa health care officials contend their noncompliance is not for lack of trying. Hospitals face significant barriers to publishing the massive amounts of data required under the federal rule, they say. “If you don’t have the knowledge, tools, resources or financial availability to get it done, I’m sure hospitals are not compliant for those reasons,” said Heather Vandewater, business office and patient access director for Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames.


Visitors to the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Park are educated about the history of the five lawsuits that brought about desegregation in schools during the 1950s through interactive galleries.
Visitors to the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Park are educated about the history of the five lawsuits that brought about desegregation in schools during the 1950s through interactive galleries.

Topeka: Three months after the National Park Service announced James Williams as the new superintendent of Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Park, the site opened its doors Friday in celebration of the 30th anniversary of its designation. The symposium at the Brown v. Board of Education site also welcomed leaders from five new affiliated areas and an additional National Park Service site. “It’s just interesting to me to get to know the people, get to know their stories, and see the potential for us as an agency to help the American people understand the complexity of the Brown decision and all the history that went into it,” Williams said. Last week’s symposium is historic because it brought together – for the first time – people from each of the sites that are part of Brown v. Board of Education National Historical Park, said Sean Dixon, president of Visit Topeka. He noted that President Joe Biden last May signed the Brown v. Board of Education National Historical Park Expansion and Redesignation Act. That act continues federal government efforts to recognize the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, which banned racial segregation in schools in 1954.


Frankfort: An advisory committee set up this year by Gov. Andy Beshear reported that many Kentucky adults favor legalizing medical marijuana, Beshear’s office said Friday. The Democratic governor formed the Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee after a bill to legalize medical marijuana died in the state Senate this year. The committee found that Kentuckians who suffer from chronic conditions are not getting relief from painkillers and opioids and fear their addictive properties, Beshear said. The committee also reported that residents are crossing state lines to obtain medical cannabis where it is legal and want to return to Kentucky without breaking the law. The panel found that military veterans from Kentucky reported that cannabis use eased post-traumatic stress disorder, Beshear’s office said in a news release. Justice and Public Safety Secretary Kerry Harvey, the committee co-chair, said the panel did not hear any opposition at town hall meetings on the topic. “Everyone who spoke supported legalizing medical cannabis in Kentucky,” Harvey said. “We heard from many Kentuckians that use cannabis for its beneficial medical effects but can only do so by breaking the law as it now exists.” Beshear said he is considering the information while he decides what steps to take next to legalize medical marijuana, which he supports.


New Orleans: Rule No. 1 for this week’s animal blessing at a Catholic university: “Please leave venomous animals at home.” Rule No. 2: Be prepared to clean up after your pet. “We will provide a pet station with complimentary water and waste bags,” said a news release Thursday. The group blessing of the animals – all comers welcome – will be the first since 1999 at Loyola University New Orleans. The Rev. Justin Daffron, Loyola’s interim president, and Parleaux, a black cockapoo he trained as the university’s therapy dog, will attend, university spokeswoman Patricia Murret said Thursday. The service is scheduled for Tuesday evening on the lawn next to the university’s church. Oct. 4 is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals, ecology, merchants and Italy. Churches and schools from the East Coast to the West Coast hold Blessing of the Animals services. Murret said they were popular at Loyola during the 1990s but apparently fell by the wayside for the next two decades. She doesn’t know why. She said someone suggested resuming the tradition at a late August or early September meeting “about alumni events, bringing people together, reconnecting in this post-pandemic world as we return to life and joy and connections with each other.”


Portland: The state housing authority has halted new applications for emergency rental assistance while it waits to find out if a request for more federal money will be approved. MaineHousing said in a statement that an “unanticipated uptick in demand” and uncertainty about new revenue prompted the decision to pause applications. The program started in March 2021 and stopped taking applications at the end of the day Thursday. The housing authority described the program as a temporary support that is funded via federal money through COVID-19 relief laws. The authority said the pause will allow more than 11,000 pending requests to be processed. The program has helped more than 33,000 households and spent more than $275 million, MaineHousing officials said. The program is mostly used to pay rent directly to landlords. MaineHousing spokesperson Scott Thistle said the pause in applications “a fiscally responsible and reasonable move that will allow us to ensure all who have already applied to this program get a fair opportunity to receive help.” Dozens of other states have paused or ended similar programs.


Baltimore: Aging infrastructure contributed to an E. coli contamination of the city of Baltimore’s water system in early September, officials said last week. A confluence of events in several parts of the water system reduced chlorine levels, which led to three positive tests for E. coli, a Department of Public Works official told The Washington Post. City officials also detailed their findings during a City Council hearing Thursday. The contamination led to a boil-water advisory for a wide swath of the city and into Baltimore County, which is served by the city system, The Baltimore Sun reports. No illnesses were linked to the contaminated water, a city spokeswoman said Friday.


Worcester: A former tenant charged with setting a fire at an apartment building that claimed the lives of four people pleaded not guilty at her arraignment Friday and was held without bail. Yvonne Ngoiri, 36, faces four counts of second-degree murder as well as arson and assault charges in connection with the May 14 blaze in Worcester. Among the victims was a man who in 2018 had sued right-wing radio host Alex Jones’ Infowars website. Ngoiri, who once lived in the building, was taken into custody Thursday, the office of Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. said in a statement. The cause of the early-morning fire at the three-story, six-unit building was determined to be “incendiary,” according to the district attorney’s office, but no motive was disclosed in court. Ngoiri is scheduled back in court Nov. 29. The victims have previously been identified as Joseph Garchali, 47; Christopher Lozeau, 53; Vincent Page, 41; and Marcel Fontaine, 29. In addition, several residents were injured, including one who jumped from a third-story window and two who suffered from smoke inhalation. The building had about 20 tenants. Two nearby buildings were also damaged. Fontaine sued Infowars in 2018, saying it posted his photograph on its website the day of a mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida, depicting him as the gunman.


Odessa Township: A homeowner has been charged with shooting and wounding an 84-year-old woman who was canvassing door-to-door against a proposed constitutional amendment that would guarantee the right to abortion in the state. Richard Harvey was charged Friday on charges of felonious assault and reckless discharge of a firearm causing injury charges, Ionia County Prosecutor Kyle Butler said in a statement. Harvey surrendered to authorities Friday morning and was being held in the county jail. The State Police investigated the Sept. 20 shooting at Harvey’s home in Odessa Township and submitted charging recommendations to the prosecutor’s office, Butler said. The canvasser, Joan Jacobson, told investigators she was asking a woman at the home to vote against Proposal 3 in November when she was told to leave. Jacobson told The Detroit News that she was headed to her car when she “heard a shot” and “felt some pain.” Jacobson said she then drove to a local police station and was later treated at a hospital. Harvey, 74, told WOOD-TV he shot Jacobson accidentally while she was arguing with his wife, and he told Jacobson numerous times to leave their property. Harvey said he fired a warning shot at a tree, and the woman continued “ranting and raving” and waving a clipboard.


Minneapolis: Mayor Jacob Frey said Thursday that he is nominating a former public safety director from New Jersey as his top pick for the city’s next police chief, at a time when the department is struggling with depleted staffing and the uncertainty of an ongoing federal investigation following the killing of George Floyd. If confirmed by the City Council, Brian O’Hara, deputy mayor of Newark, would be taking over a department that some city leaders and community members had sought to abolish in recent years, and he would lead the agency through court-ordered changes that are expected as the result of the U.S. Department of Justice’s ongoing probe into policing practices. “What we heard loud and clear is that people wanted a changemaker,” Frey said. “They wanted a reform-minded candidate that would both be accountable to the city of Minneapolis and our residents and also able to drive down crime in a serious way. … Minneapolis has been asking for change, and Brian O’Hara, the deputy mayor, is answering that call.” O’Hara said Thursday that he will work toward driving down gun violence, building up ranks in the police department, and working with the community “to heal the heart of this great city,” and he plans to build a department so good that people of all races and backgrounds will want to be part of it.


Jackson: The University of Mississippi is paying tribute to 89-year-old James Meredith 60 years after white protesters erupted into violence as he became the first Black student to enroll in what was then a bastion of Deep South segregation. Meredith was honored Saturday during the Ole Miss-Kentucky football game, receiving a framed Ole Miss jersey with the number 62 – for 1962, the year he integrated the university. The ceremony happened two days after he attended the Rebels’ practice to speak to players. “He came and revolutionized our thinking. He came to open our closed society,” Donald Cole, who retired in 2018 as the university’s assistant provost and head of multicultural affairs, said during a celebration Wednesday night. The enigmatic Meredith, who lives in Jackson, has long resisted the label of “civil rights leader,” as if civil rights are separate from other human rights. He has said his effort to enter Ole Miss was his own battle to conquer white supremacy. Meredith’s being honored at the Ole Miss-Kentucky game was an ironic echo of history. Two days before he enrolled on the Oxford campus in 1962, race-baiting Gov. Ross Barnett worked a white crowd into a frenzy at a football stadium in Jackson. Ole Miss fans waved Confederate flags to support their Rebels over the Kentucky Wildcats and to defy any move toward racial integration.


Columbia: Lawmakers on Thursday gave final approval to an income tax cut that Gov. Mike Parson requested and ditched a last-minute proposal to cut corporate taxes. The Republican-led Missouri House voted 98-32 in favor of the bill, which would cut income taxes from 5.3% to 4.95% beginning next year and phase in additional cuts until the rate hits 4.5%. The bill applies to the top income tax rate, which covers those who make more than about $8,700 a year in taxable income. The additional cuts would be triggered by revenue growth benchmarks tied to inflation. The roughly $1 billion measure also eliminates the lowest tax bracket, meaning earners who bring in less than about $1,000 a year no longer will have to pay state income taxes. The measure now heads to Parson, who is expected to sign it. The Republican governor called lawmakers back to work to spend some of the state’s record revenue surplus on tax cuts. “We are thrilled that the General Assembly has answered our call to cut Missourians’ taxes and return some of their hard-earned dollars,” he said in a statement. If Parson signs the bill into law, taxpayers who make between $22,000 and $66,000 a year would on average see savings of $10 to $50 next year because of the income tax cut, according to an analysis by the Missouri Budget Project.


Bridger: An evacuation warning was put in place for residents near the town after a train derailed, and two fuel cars ruptured and leaked an estimated 31,000 gallons of gasoline, authorities said Saturday. BNSF Railway Co. said there were no injuries, and crews were working with local officials and hazardous-materials responders to safely clear the site. The derailment of the southbound train occurred on a curving portion of the track about half a mile east of the small south-central Montana town of Bridger, population of about 660, about 45 miles southwest of Billings. “Two of the derailed cars were compromised and leaked gasoline,” BNSF spokesman Ben Wilemon said in an email to the Associated Press. “The cause of the derailment is under investigation.” A 30,000-gallon tank emptied completely, and a second damaged tank leaked about 1,000 gallons before BNSF workers repaired the tank, The Billings Gazette reports. There was no immediate information on whether the spill contaminated groundwater or the area’s irrigation systems. Authorities said about 15 cars derailed not long after midnight. Four of the derailed cars contained petroleum. Officials said the train was also moving coal, sorghum and particle board. The tracks in that area in some portions run near the meandering Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone River.


Lincoln: A passenger’s cellphone automatically alerted responders after a car hit a tree early Sunday in a crash that killed all six of its young occupants, authorities said. Five men in the car died at the scene of the crash about 2:15 a.m. in Lincoln, about 3 miles east of the state Capitol, police said. A 24-year-old woman died later at a hospital where she was taken in critical condition. The five men who died included the 22-year-old driver. The other victims were one 21-year-old, one 23-year-old and two 22-year-olds. Police did not release any details on what caused the crash but said it was reported by an iPhone that detected the impact and called responders automatically when the phone’s owner didn’t respond.


Reno: Thousands of people in hundreds of cars took over northern Nevada parking lots and intersections Friday night and into Saturday, performing stunts in souped-up vehicles and leading to crashes and arrests, police said. Police beefed up nighttime staffing after social media posts urged people from San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, to come to the “sideshow” in Reno, Police Lt. Michael Browett said. The disturbances started late Friday as several hundred cars and their occupants met in the parking lot of a still-open Walmart store. Police tried to break up the crowds, and drivers sped off, meeting up again at several intersections and industrial parks into Saturday morning. A dozen people were arrested, 14 cars impounded and 33 people issued citations. Browett said Reno is just the latest city to see late-night takeovers by auto enthusiasts who ignore law enforcement efforts to stop the illegal and dangerous activity. “I don’t know what the underlying movement is with this group, but it goes a little beyond cars,” Browett said. “They’re very anti-authoritarian, and they basically just show up and do whatever they want.” In Reno, no one was seriously injured. But Browett said those arrested face charges including reckless driving, hit and run causing injury and weapons possession.

New Hampshire

Nashua: Investigators are trying to determine the cause of a fire that heavily damaged a strip mall, the fire department said in a Saturday news release. The fire in the building on Amherst Street that contained a number of businesses was reported about 7:30 p.m. Friday. People who were inside a pizza shop and an Asian market left the building before firefighters arrived. The fire was brought under control in about an hour. There were no injuries. The Nashua Fire Department says the structure was left unusable by the fire. The City of Nashua Fire Marshal’s office is trying to determine the cause of the fire.

New Jersey

Trenton: The Democrat-led state Senate on Thursday confirmed Gov. Phil Murphy’s former chief counsel to be New Jersey’s attorney general. Attorney General Matt Platkin had been serving as the state’s acting top law enforcement official since earlier this year when Murphy nominated him. “I pledge to continue to work tirelessly to end the scourge of gun violence, to strengthen trust between law enforcement and the broader public, and to protect the rights of our residents,” he said. Platkin, 35, served as the Murphy administration’s top attorney overseeing pending bills and executive orders for the Democratic governor from the start of the administration in early 2018 until late 2020. He left to take a post at the firm Lowenstein Sandler where he handled white-collar cases and business disputes. Platkin was a fixture during Murphy’s regular news conferences during the COVID-19 pandemic and regularly fielded questions related to executive orders aimed at curbing the effects of the virus. He was also a lead negotiator for the governor for three annual budget bills and oversaw the vast appointment and nominations apparatus in the governor’s office. New Jersey’s governor is among the most powerful in the country because the state constitution provides for the executive to appoint many offices in the state.

New Mexico

Albuquerque: Hundreds of hot air balloons lifted off Saturday morning, marking the start of an annual fiesta that has drawn pilots and spectators from across the globe to the high desert for 50 years. As one of the most photographed events in the world, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta has become an economic driver for the state’s largest city and a rare – and colorful – opportunity for enthusiasts to be within arm’s reach as the giant balloons are unpacked and inflated. Three of the original pilots who participated in the first fiesta in 1972 and the family members of others are among this year’s attendees. That first year, 13 balloons launched from an open lot near a shopping center on what was then the edge of Albuquerque. It has since grown into a multimillion-dollar production. Pilot Gene Dennis, 78, remembers the snowstorm that almost caused him to miss the 1972 fiesta. He had to rearrange his flight plans from Michigan so he could make it to Albuquerque in time. The weather was perfect when he got to New Mexico, said Dennis, who flew under the alias “Captain Phairweather.” He was quoted at the time as saying he had brought good weather with him. He was on the hook again, as pilots hope predictions for the rest of opening weekend are fair. “Ballooning is infectious,” Dennis said, describing being aloft like drifting in a dream, quietly observing the countryside below.

New York

New York: Struggling taxi drivers have gotten $225 million in debt relief over the past two weeks, but thousands more loans have yet to be refinanced after a cabbie debt crisis, officials and advocates said Friday as the relief program deadline was extended. Over 1,000 loans have been refinanced in the first two weeks of the program. It was announced in August after drivers appealed for years for help with a crippling economic crunch surrounding the city’s famous yellow cabs. “Every time we raised our hands to hail a cab at a curb, they responded. Now it’s time for us to stand with them, and that’s what we’ve done,” Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, said at a news conference where scores of drivers lined the steps of City Hall. Still, the major lender participating in the program, Marblegate Asset Management, said it had yet to hear from the borrowers of roughly 2,000 eligible loans. An estimated 850 loans handled by other lenders haven’t been addressed, according to Bhairavi Desai of the Taxi Workers Alliance, a drivers’ union. Officials urged drivers with Marblegate loans to inquire by the program deadline – now extended by a week, to next Friday – and encouraged other lenders to participate.

North Carolina

Raleigh: One week before election officials begin processing by-mail ballots in the closely watched Southern swing state, the GOP is pursuing its latest legal challenge to the electoral procedures established by the Democrat-led State Board of Elections. The North Carolina Republican Party filed two motions in Wake County Superior Court last week, asking the court to block the board from enforcing its prohibition of county election officials scrutinizing signatures on absentee voting documents. The legal challenge follows the state board’s July rejection of a Republican Party request to authorize county officials to compare signatures on absentee ballot request forms and container envelopes with the signatures included in voter registration records. Citing concerns that the proposal would create unequal voting access, the board denied the request in a 3-2 party-line vote, with three Democrats voting against signature checks and two Republicans voting in favor. “Why the Board of Elections continues to undermine the integrity of our elections is inexplicable,” North Carolina GOP Chairman Michael Whatley said. “The NCGOP is pursuing this lawsuit to ensure our elections remain secure and free from doubt.”

North Dakota

McHenry: A man accused in the fatal hit-and-run of a teenager after a small-town street dance is now charged with murder, after prosecutors say he intentionally ran over the 18-year-old, according to upgraded charges made public Friday. Shannon Brandt, 41, was initially charged with criminal vehicular homicide in the Sept. 18 killing of Cayler Ellingson, but that charge has been dropped. The new charge – murder with a dangerous weapon – is a felony that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison upon conviction. Brandt is also charged with leaving the scene of a crash that resulted in death. According to a probable cause affidavit released Friday, Brandt told a 911 dispatcher that if it had been a total accident, he wouldn’t be so scared, “but I know it was more than that.” Brandt initially told authorities that there had been a political argument and that Ellingson was part of a “Republican extremist group.” Many conservatives took to social media to decry the alleged motive in Ellingson’s death. But investigators have said that the case was not political in nature and that there is no evidence to support Brandt’s claim that Ellingson was a Republican extremist. Brandt’s attorney, Mark Friese, said Friday that he would not comment yet because the Ellingson family is grieving, the community is in mourning, and he hasn’t received all of the case background.


Columbus: Medical marijuana patients are happier with the state’s program than they once were, but they continue to face high prices and a shortage of doctors who can recommend cannabis, according to a new study. The report from Ohio State University’s Drug Enforcement and Policy Center found more than half of survey respondents reported some level of satisfaction with the medical cannabis program, including 15.3% who were “extremely satisfied.” About 35% of people were dissatisfied with the program, an improvement from 55% last year. The center conducted its survey in April and March and received more than 2,500 responses. The high cost of medical marijuana in Ohio is the biggest problem, according to patients. While the price of plant product in the state declined 17% during the past year, costs in neighboring Michigan dropped even further, making a trip out of state more appealing than buying from an Ohio dispensary. During a 13-month period, an Ohio patient on average paid $4.08 more per gram than someone in Michigan. “They see a huge price difference between Michigan and Ohio, and I think that’s one of the things that might be driving dissatisfaction,” said Jana Hrdinova, the study’s author and administrative director of the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center.


Tulsa: A teenager was killed and another wounded in a shooting at a high school homecoming football game Friday night, police said. The victims, both 17, were shot during the event at McLain High School for Science and Technology shortly before 10 p.m., according to a statement by the Tulsa Police Department posted on Twitter and Facebook. “When Officers arrived, we found two victims amongst the crowd of hundreds. One 17-year-old male was pronounced dead at the scene,” the post said. The surviving victim was taken to a hospital in critical condition but has improved to stable condition, the statement said. Several officers and a K-9 unit searched nearby neighborhoods but were not immediately able to find the suspected shooter, who ran away from the scene, police said. Police said the suspect is believed to be another 17-year-old.


Portland: State environmental regulators have issued a $2.7 million fine to an electric charging company over accusations it sold fraudulent credits through the agency’s clean fuels program. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality said Friday that it discovered Thompson Technical Services, or TTS Charging, sold more than $2 million in fraudulent credits, Oregon Public Broadcasting reports. The program, implemented in 2016, is designed to help the state reduce its greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector by 37% by 2035. It provides credits as incentives to companies that produce transportation fuels like electricity or biofuels. Those companies can then sell credits to other companies in order for them to comply with state emissions rules. According to DEQ, TTS Charging falsely claimed more than 16,000 in credits in June, alleging it dispensed nearly 15 million kilowatt hours of electricity from three vehicle charging stations. “They hadn’t dispensed any electricity; they hadn’t even set up the charging stations,” said Harry Esteve, a spokesperson for the agency. The company then sold the credits for nearly $1.8 million to oil and natural gas transportation company, Elbow River Marketing, based in Canada. The state agency has revoked TTS Charging’s account with the clean fuels program.


Pittsburgh: Max Baer, the chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, has died only months before he was set to retire, the court confirmed Saturday. He was 74. Baer died overnight at his home near Pittsburgh, the court said in a news release. The court didn’t give a reason for his death but called his “sudden passing” a “tremendous loss for the court and all of Pennsylvania.” The court said Justice Debra Todd now becomes chief justice “as the justice of longest and continuous service on the court.” She is the first female chief justice in the commonwealth’s history, a court spokesperson confirmed. “Chief Justice Baer was an influential and intellectual jurist whose unwavering focus was on administering fair and balanced justice,” Todd said in the release. “He was a tireless champion for children, devoted to protecting and providing for our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.” Gov. Tom Wolf ordered state flags at commonwealth facilities, public buildings and grounds lowered to half-staff, saying he was “extremely saddened” by the death of such a “respected and esteemed jurist with decades of service to our courts and our commonwealth.” Baer, a Duquesne Law graduate, was an Allegheny County family court judge and an administrative judge in family court before he was elected to the high court in 2003 and became its chief justice last year. Baer also served as deputy attorney general for Pennsylvania from 1975 to 1980 and was in private practice before entering the judiciary.

Rhode Island

Kara McKee, the 37-year-old daughter of Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee, will be a contestant on this season of the NBC singing contest show "The Voice."
Kara McKee, the 37-year-old daughter of Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee, will be a contestant on this season of the NBC singing contest show "The Voice."

Providence: The most closely guarded secret entrusted to the governor may be knowing what happens on the NBC singing competition “The Voice.” For several weeks, it was rumored that Gov. Dan McKee’s daughter, Kara McKee, was lined up for an on-screen audition for the show, which airs on Monday and Tuesday nights. Last week, the governor’s office confirmed that she would be on the show but declined to say more. The Democrat sidestepped direct questions about how well his daughter fares to talk about how wonderful she is. “We’re very proud of our family, and Kara in particular right now – she’s taken over from my mom ... in terms of being the star of the family,” he said. “We’re very proud of Kara and her move to spend the time on a music career that she’s left the corporate world to pursue.” McKee’s 94-year-old mother, Willa McKee, who moved back in with her son’s family, stars in a popular campaign ad whose punchline says that her son isn’t doing too bad “for a governor that lives with his mother.” His daughter, 37, most recently worked in digital operations for TJX, the corporate parent of TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods. Why won’t the proud papa talk about how she does on the competition? “We signed all these agreements,” he said, referring to nondisclosure agreements.

South Carolina

Charleston: Gov. Henry McMaster has temporarily suspended campaign activities as he leads the state’s response to Hurricane Ian. McMaster’s campaign said the Republican incumbent canceled a fundraiser scheduled for Friday night in Clemson, as well as an appearance for tailgating before the Clemson Tigers’ football game Saturday. McMaster had been talking with officials across the state and holding daily briefings last week as the state made preparations for the storm, which ravaged Florida and barreled onward to South Carolina’s coast. Politics and hurricanes often collide in the state, where the final months before the November general elections can turn into busy storm seasons. In 2018, both McMaster and his Democratic opponent, then-Rep. James Smith, pulled down their campaign events as Hurricane Florence approached the state. Smith, who was a major in the South Carolina National Guard, was activated during that storm response, tasked with coordinating the distribution of resources across the state.

South Dakota

Sioux Falls: Gov. Kristi Noem indicated Friday during her reelection campaign’s lone debate with her Democratic challenger, state lawmaker Jamie Smith, that if reelected she will uphold the state’s abortion ban that provides no exceptions for rape or incest. The Republican governor explained her position simply as “pro-life,” while pledging to push for expanded parental leave in the state and alleviate the toll of inflation on people’s budgets. Smith called Noem’s stance extreme and said it was endangering women’s lives and causing concern among physicians for its lack of clarity on when an abortion is allowed – only to save the life of a pregnant woman. “It’s clear to me that South Dakotans overwhelmingly support a woman’s right to an abortion,” Smith said. “We talk about freedom all the time, except the freedom to make this choice.” The gubernatorial race’s lone head-to-head meeting of the two candidates featured Noem touting her record of a hands-off approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. Smith, who is facing an uphill election in the heavily Republican state, cast himself as a moderate. He was quick to point out that the grocery-tax repeal Noem suddenly embraced last week was an initiative he has been pushing for years, and when the state House passed the proposal in March, support from Noem was lacking.


Memphis: Problems with rape kit evidence testing keep haunting Memphis. A city long plagued by a heavy backlog of untested sexual assault kits was shaken by Cleotha Henderson’s arrest in the killing of Eliza Fletcher after she was abducted during a morning jog last month. So when authorities said his DNA was linked to a rape that occurred nearly a year earlier – charging him separately days after he was arrested in Fletcher’s killing – an outraged city turned to the obvious question: Why was he still on the streets? The case of Henderson, who already has served 20 years in prison for a kidnapping he committed at 16, has reignited criticism of Tennessee’s sexual assault testing process. That has included calls for shorter delays from the testing agency, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and questions about why Memphis didn’t seek to fast-track a kit that could have been tested in days. Instead, it took nearly a year, unearthing key evidence too late to charge Henderson before Fletcher’s killing. The tragic outcome brings back memories from the early 2010s, when Memphis revealed a backlog of about 12,000 untested rape kits that took years to whittle down and led to a lawsuit that’s still ongoing. The new rape charges have spurred another lawsuit accusing the Memphis Police Department of negligence for the delay.


Conroe: A deeply divided federal appeals court has ruled that a Texas judge may start the day with prayer, overturning a district court decision. Judges on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans split 2-1 in opinions handed down Thursday, reversing a ruling made without a trial by U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt. Montgomery County Justice of the Peace Wayne Mack doesn’t force anyone to attend the prayers before court formally opens, Judge Jerry E. Smith wrote for himself and Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt. Mack “takes great pains to convince attendees that they need not watch the ceremony – and that doing so will not affect their cases,” he wrote. Judge E. Grady Jolly responded: “For the majority to find that there is no evidence of coercion, suggests, in my opinion, willful blindness and indisputable error.” He noted that Mack is a Pentecostal minister who made a campaign promise to establish prayer in his courtroom. “He has previously criticized opponents of his prayer ceremony and has acted hostile following a litigant’s noncooperation in the prayer,” Jolly wrote. The Freedom From Religion Foundation sued Mack in 2017 for itself and an anonymous lawyer who said he attended the sessions out of fear that not doing so would hurt his clients.


Salt Lake City: Russell M. Nelson, the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, told members of the faith Saturday that abuse was “a grievous sin” that shouldn’t be tolerated and would bring down the wrath of God on perpetrators. Though the leader of the nearly 17 million-member faith did not mention it directly, the remarks were the first on abuse from a senior church leader since the Associated Press published an investigation into how the church handles reports of sexual abuse when brought to its attention. “Let me be perfectly clear: Any kind of abuse of women, children or anyone is an abomination to the Lord,” Nelson, who members of the faith believe is a prophet, said in Salt Lake City at a church conference. The AP’s investigation found the hotline the church uses for abuse reporting can be misused by its leaders to divert accusations away from law enforcement and toward church attorneys. The story, based on sealed records and court cases filed in Arizona and West Virginia, uncovered a host of concerns, including how church officials have cited exemptions to mandatory reporting laws, known as clergy-penitent privilege, as a reason to not report abuse. Since its publication, the church has said the investigation mischaracterizes its policies.


Brandon Coburn, of St. Albans, Vt., holds his purchase – an eighth of an ounce of cannabis flower – on Saturday near the Ceres Collaborative store in Burlington on the first day of retail adult-use cannabis sales in Vermont.
Brandon Coburn, of St. Albans, Vt., holds his purchase – an eighth of an ounce of cannabis flower – on Saturday near the Ceres Collaborative store in Burlington on the first day of retail adult-use cannabis sales in Vermont.

Burlington: Dispensaries began selling marijuana for legal recreational use over the weekend. FLORA Cannabis in Middlebury, Mountain Girl Cannabis in Rutland and CeresMED in Burlington were the only retailers ready to begin sales Saturday. A fourth business has been licensed to sell recreational pot but isn’t ready to do so yet. As happened with the rollout of recreational marijuana sales in other states and in Canada, Vermont’s inaugural weekend was “more of a soft opening,” as more product manufacturers and testing facilities come online and as more people harvest the plant, said James Pepper, chair of the state Cannabis Control Board. Vermont joins 14 other states with legal adult-use cannabis sales, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. Four others – Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island and Virginia – and Washington, D.C., have legalized the use of recreational marijuana, but sales haven’t started there yet. Vermont’s Cannabis Control Board prioritized review and waived licensing fees for social equity applicants. Such applicants are Black or Hispanic or from communities that historically have been disproportionately affected by cannabis being outlawed or who have been or had a family member who has been incarcerated for a cannabis-related offense.


Members of the U.S. Olympic boxing team pose on a deck of the Liner America while en route to England for the Olympic games on July 22, 1948. Virginia's Norvel Lee is just left of center, eighth from left.
Members of the U.S. Olympic boxing team pose on a deck of the Liner America while en route to England for the Olympic games on July 22, 1948. Virginia's Norvel Lee is just left of center, eighth from left.

Gala: He won in the dogfights of World War II, he won in the Olympic boxing ring, and he won in Virginia Supreme Court. Now a stretch of highway in Botetourt County is named in honor of Norvel LaFallette Ray Lee. Descendants of Lee recently traveled to his birthplace from as far as Alaska to unveil a placard along U.S. 220 that details his life and accomplishments, on what would have been his 98th birthday. “I hope this marker will inspire people to learn more about Norvel, his extraordinary achievements and his place in the history of our country,” said state Del. Terry Austin, R-Botetourt. “I want to acknowledge this man who overcame the adversities of segregation to become a Tuskegee Airmen and a gold medalist in the Olympics.” Born in Eagle Rock in 1924, Lee won fights by air and in the boxing ring, including Olympic gold in 1952, but is known also for taking a stand against segregation on his way home from the 1948 Olympics. “While returning from the 1948 Olympics, traveling by train, he was asked to give up his seat to a white person,” Austin said. “Mr. Lee declined to do so and was arrested. Eventually the Virginia Supreme Court did the right thing and ruled in Mr. Lee’s favor.” Undefeated in Virginia Supreme Court on what became a landmark civil rights case, Lee went on to retire from boxing with two Golden Glove titles and a 100-5 win-loss record, said the Rev. Nelson Harris of Heights Community Church in Roanoke.


Spokane: A woman who was sexually assaulted by a police officer has filed a tort claim against the city. The woman is seeking $1 million in damages, alleging “red flags” related to now ex-police Officer Nathan Nash’s behavior were ignored, KREM-TV reports. Nash was convicted in August on one count of third-degree rape and one count of second-degree rape in two separate incidents in which he was on duty. The woman intending to sue says in the claim that the city’s hiring, training and supervision of Nash was inadequate and a proximate cause of her injuries. The city allowed Nash to use his power and police uniform to prey on women he encountered during the performance of his duties, according to the claim. The city has about two months to respond. Nash is in custody at the Spokane County Detention Center awaiting a mid-October sentencing for the rape convictions. Throughout his trial, Nash maintained his innocence. He was first charged in 2019 when a woman accused him of rape while investigating her case. Another woman in 2021 told police about a similar experience.

West Virginia

Huntington: Marshall University is getting a $13.8 million funding boost from the state to help finish construction of a baseball stadium. Gov. Jim Justice announced the contribution Thursday from the state Water Development Authority’s Economic Enhancement Grant program. “This has been a long time coming, and I am so proud to play a small part in getting this project across the finish line,” Justice said. “They’ve been talking about building a baseball stadium since I was a brown-haired kid playing golf at Marshall back in the ’70s. Finally, it’s going to happen, and this community can get the monkey off its back.” Marshall has never had an on-campus baseball stadium. The new facility will be built across the street from Marshall’s football stadium. The stadium is expected to cost about $23 million. The city of Huntington and Marshall are contributing nearly $10 million, the governor’s office said in a statement. Construction is scheduled to begin this month, with a tentative completion date of March 2024.


Madison: Two lawsuits filed last week argue that election clerks should be allowed to accept absentee ballots that are missing portions of witness addresses – the next step in the ongoing legal battle that has pit conservatives against liberals in the battleground state. The lawsuits, filed three days apart on Tuesday and Friday, come after a judge in Waukesha County circuit court in September sided with Republicans and said election clerks are barred from filling in missing information on the form that serves as an envelope for absentee ballots. The judge struck down guidance issued by the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission, in place for six years, saying that clerks could fill in missing information. The judge agreed with Republicans that there is nothing in law allowing clerks to do that. The practice, known as ballot curing, was unchallenged until after Donald Trump’s narrow loss in 2020, when nearly 1.4 million voters cast absentee ballots, and COVID-19 vaccines weren’t available yet. Absent any guidance, there is confusion among election officials about how much of an address must be provided by the witness to allow for the ballot to be counted. Those with partial witness addresses should be accepted, not rejected, according to a lawsuit filed Friday by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin.


Casper: The state doubled its wind-power generating capacity from 2019 to 2021 and is looking to add more wind farms in the next five years. The Casper Star Tribune reports researchers at the University of Wyoming say that boost in power generation is like adding another coal-fired power plant. The increase has pushed Wyoming’s wind-power generating capacity from about 1,600 to about 3,200 megawatts and from 17th to 14th in the nation in wind-power capacity. Enough future wind farms have been proposed to the Wyoming Industrial Siting Council to nearly triple the state’s wind-power capacity. The University of Wyoming report released in June sought to measure the economic impacts of wind projects in the state. It found that building another 6,000 megawatts of wind capacity would support close to 1,600 long-term jobs. It would also inject $1.2 billion into the state economy during construction and add another estimated $210 million annually. Researchers said that includes $89 million in government revenue. Additionally, if the turbines were built in Wyoming, the revenue produced in the state could be even more.

From USA TODAY Network and wire reports

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Injured musher, yard shark: News from around our 50 states